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Road Trip from California to Utah

Updated on November 27, 2012
Kids Sitting on A Rock
Kids Sitting on A Rock | Source

If you have at least two weeks of vacation, then taking a round trip from California to Utah by driving without repeating the same route back is doable. We just did it this summer and our kids benefited it the most because they learned a lot, such as the cultures and settings of different places. We drove through small towns, big cities, large woods, awesome canyons, and scary deserts. This was our first time taking our kids on a road trip across different states and for more than a week's time. I was nervous at first, but we carefully planned the trip ahead of time and aimed for the capital city of each state as the focal point with activities within those cities as well as the surrounding areas. It turned out it was a lot of fun and well worth the time, money, and effort.

How to Plan A Road Trip

In order to have a fun and safe road trip, it is essential to plan ahead of time. Here is what you need to do to prepare for the road trip for your family:

  1. Mark down the cities or towns that you want to visit along the way: keep in mind that not all the cities and towns are as populated like San Francisco Bay Area where cities are cramped right next to each other with many hotels and restaurants for you to choose from. Sometimes there are vast amounts of land spreading hundreds of miles without a single house in sight.
  2. Discuss with your kids and have them search for places they would like to visit: Once you have narrowed down which places they would like to visit, then you can plan the towns or cities you would stay for the nights. Have your kids pick some tourist spots that they would like to visit in or around these areas. Use Google Map or another internet map to get the approximate distance and travel time from the potential hotels that you could be staying at. Add an extra 2-3 hours for unforeseen circumstances on the schedule for each day when you calculate the travel times,
  3. Finalize your decision on which hotels to stay in and make your hotel bookings.
  4. Make a list of essential things you will need to bring for the trip:
  • Not all the hotels have onsite laundries. Even they do, there might be an "Out of Order" situation. Therefore, it would be wise to bring at least 5 sets of clothes for each travel member,
  • Bring your daily use items such as your teeth cleaning gears, lotion, sunscreen, soap (although hotels provide soaps and shampoos, bring your own if you have sensitive skin), slippers, hats, and a blanket just in case you get stuck in the middle of nowhere for a night or two.
  • Food and water: Food that doesn't expire during the time you will be traveling such as crackers and snack bars. Water to keep you hydrated better than other types of drinks.
  • First aid kit along with any medications that you need.
  • Other emergency items: a portable toilet, maps of all the states and cities you'll be visiting because GPS may not work well in some areas,

List of the cities in the order of our trip (visiting):

Sacramento, CA (hote; 1 night)
Fortuna, CA
Crecent City, CA
Medford, OR (hotel: 1 night)
Salem, OR
Portland, OR (hotel: 1 night)
Olympia, WA
Seattle, WA (hotel: 2 nights)
Yakima, WA (hotel: 1 night)
Boise, ID
Idaho Falls, ID (hotel: 2 nights)
Yellowstone National Park, WY
Salt Lake City, UT (hotel: 1 night)
Zion National Park
St. George, UT (hotel: 1 night)
Petrified Forest in AZ
Flagstaff, AZ (hotel: 2 nights)
Grand Canyon, AZ
Las Vegas, NV (hotel: 1 night)
San Dimas, CA (hotel 1 night)
Hearst Castle, CA

Main Cities & Places to Visit

show route and directions
A markerSacramento, California -
Sacramento, CA, USA
get directions

Starting point of the trip

B markerSalem, Oregon -
Salem, OR, USA
get directions

C markerPortland, Oregon -
Portland, OR, USA
get directions

D markerOlympia, Washington -
Olympia, WA, USA
get directions

E markerYellowstone National Park -
Yellowstone National Park, 200 Old Yellowstone Trail, Gardiner, Mt 59030, USA
get directions

F markerBoise, Idaho -
Idaho Falls, ID, USA
get directions

G markerSalt Lake City, Utah -
Salt Lake City, UT, USA
get directions

H markerZion Canyon -
Zion National Park, Zion National park, Hurricane, UT 84737, USA
get directions

I markergrand canyon -
Grand Canyon National Park, Village Loop Rd, Grand Canyon,, AZ 86023, USA
get directions

J markerLas Vegas -
McCarran International Airport (LAS), 7135 Gilespie, Las Vegas, NV 89119, USA
get directions

List of Must-See Places

Enderts Beach in Crescent City, Oregon : Free

Multnomah Falls, Oregon: Free

Capital Building in Olympia, Washington: Free

Chihuly Garden and Glass, Seattle, WA: Parking & Admission fee

Yellowstone National Park: Entrance fee

Zion Canyon, Hurricane, Utah: Entrance fee

Grand Canyon, Arizona: Entrance fee

Enderts Beach in Crescent City,  California
Enderts Beach in Crescent City, California | Source
Multnomah Falls in Oregon
Multnomah Falls in Oregon | Source
Capital Building in Olympia, Washington
Capital Building in Olympia, Washington | Source
Chihuly Garden and Glass in Seattle, Washington
Chihuly Garden and Glass in Seattle, Washington | Source
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park | Source
Zion National Park
Zion National Park | Source
Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon | Source

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